Ethanol Blog

Senators Press Pruitt on E15 Timeline

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of 18 United States senators has asked EPA Scott Pruitt to provide a timeline and details about a regulatory pathway for allowing year-round sales of E15, in a letter to the administrator on Monday.

In recent weeks it became evident that President Donald Trump and his EPA do not appear to be on the same page in providing a waiver to allow E15 to expand its market. Trump made a public pronouncement recently that he supports the expansion of E15, while the EPA has indicated it has not made a decision on the higher ethanol blend.

During testimony given to a U.S. House of Representatives committee last week, Pruitt said E15 is subject to questions of legality and not strictly a regulatory process. Pruitt said he expects the approval of E15 to be challenged in court, if the agency moves forward on the blend.

In the letter to Pruitt, the senators press for more EPA details based on the president's announcement.

"Collectively, we are long-time supporters of the effort to address the RVP issue and make E15 available year round across the United States," the senators write. "Allowing an open marketplace with more fuel options for consumers encourages competition and drives down consumer fuel costs. Moreover, E15 lowers evaporative and tailpipe emissions when compared to 10% ethanol fuel, improving the environment. Resolving this issue also provides a pathway to increase farm income at a time when producers are struggling with a depressed farm economy, low commodity prices, and tight margins."

While allowing year-round sales of E15 is a good step, there continues to be a number of challenges preventing the full expansion of E15 around the country. For example, E15 is not allowed to be sold in California and New York- two of the largest fuel markets in the country. Still, allowing year-round E15 sales also would create an additional market for corn.

Senators signing the letter include Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; Michael Rounds, R-S.D.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; John Hoeven, R-S.D.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Joe Donnelly, D-N.Y.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

The senators decry the EPA's use of the RVP waiver as a limit on the ethanol market. The agency approved the use of E15 in vehicles 2001 and newer, but its expansion has faced a number of barriers.

"Congress never intended the RVP waiver to effectively be a market cap on the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline," the senators write. "Rather, this provision was intended to provide a pathway for ethanol to grow and thrive in the fuel marketplace when it was passed in 1990. The current interpretation is outdated and has created an untenable regulatory barrier to E15 as a readily available option for motorists."

Not only do the senators ask for a timeline of an expected rulemaking process, they also request the agency to make arrangements to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold "in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed."

Read the letter here: https://growthenergy.org/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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